One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

August 13, 2009

For Thursday of the Nineteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 18:21 to 19:1

It is another ugly page in the Gospel of the Lord.
First of all, if you are a translation snob like me, this page’s translation is very poor.
It could have easily told us the facts, but has ended up hiding them.
I’ll say more about that later.
There is also beauty in the Gospel today, but it is in an ugly setting.
Jesus likens his heavenly Father to a king who has a wicked servant tortured for his debt.
“So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
A heavenly Father who uses torture!
Where is the beauty?
The wicked servant owed his king “a huge amount.”
Those words cover up what the original language really says.
It says the wicked servant owed his king not “a huge amount,” but, “ten thousand talents,” which is the Biblical earnings for one hundred and fifty thousand years of work.
One hundred and fifty thousand years of wages!
“Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children and all his property”— so today Jesus also likens his heavenly Father to a slave trader.
Ugliness again!
This is where beauty steps in.
The servant begged for patience, and the king “let him go and forgave him the loan.”
A debt of one hundred and fifty thousand years of salary might as well be a debt of forever.
That is what we owe God for our immortal souls.
We have compounded that everlasting debt by sinning against God’s goodness to us.
The beauty is that God forgives for the asking.
However, the forgiveness is conditional: if we do not forgive, then Jesus says his heavenly Father takes away his forgiveness from us.
The servant who owed his king one hundred and fifty thousand years of wages turned to choke and jail a coworker who owed him “a much smaller amount”— as this translation has it.
The original language says “a hundred denarii,” the earnings for a hundred days of work.
The earnings of one hundred days the second man owed to the first is as nothing against the debt of one hundred and fifty thousand years of earnings the first man owed to his king.
In the eyes of Jesus, our fellow men owe us nothing compared to what we owe his heavenly Father.
If we do not forgive, Jesus says his heavenly Father will give us up for torture.
Ugly— but that’s what Jesus says.
We are preparing right now to dare to receive the gift of the flesh and blood of Christ God himself.
We are going to go into debt for it.
This gift is, as Christ said, “so that sins may be forgiven.”
In today’s Gospel, he adds words that apply also to his Body and Blood, “Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?”
The gift of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ our God gives us the obligation to do as God does.
Otherwise Jesus leaves us with ugly words about the anger of his Father.
“Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers.... So will my heavenly Father do to you....”
There will be hell to pay.

That God Be Glorified in All



Erudite and effective.

4:01 PM  

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